Smaller properties are bought for life, said Debra Wimpfheimer, the museum’s deputy director, though more prominent buildings like the Chrysler Building can only be purchased for limited amounts of time.
“Property is still available,” she said, before joking that “we have a real estate agent on staff here.”
There are nearly 900,000 buildings on the Panorama, and only 1,500 purchases thus far, which means plenty of options. Wimpfheimer noted that while tourists prefer to buy pieces of Manhattan, the rest of the buying is spread out across the outer boroughs. Most tend to buy locations with some personally meaningful significance. While Apartment D at 144 West 16th street may be special to you—maybe you grew up there, or proposed to your future partner in the living room—that same address isn’t likely to elicit a lot of competition. “The chances of a duplicate are so slim!” said Wimpfheimer. “It’s never happened.”
One person purchased the rooftop where they spent the 2008 blackout; another bought their dog’s favorite fire hydrant. You can buy tiny model cars or boats on the Panorama as well, for $250 each.
The museum asks purchasers to share the reasons why they buy decided to buy a miniature piece of New York. Many of the testimonials are sentimental. One couple bought the apartment “where we first lived together, where we had our first fight about whether it was ok to leave pants on the floor overnight, where our friends gathered once a week to eat, drink, and watch Project Runway, where he proposed and where we planned our life together.”
Another person, who was soon leaving the city, bought their home (or at least the tiny version of it).
“This apartment was supposed to be a stopgap, but it became home,” reads the testimony. “This seemed like a fitting way to commemorate our time in this apartment—not like we could ever afford to actually buy a full-size apartment! But one at 1:1200 scale will do just fine.”